The Stellaris Command Limit is just another phrase for how big your individual fleets can get. This is separate from your Naval Capacity (shown at the top of the screen). Whereas Naval Capacity determines how much ship power your entire empire can control overall, your fleet Command Limit determines how much each individual group can grow. Naval Capacity is also flexible: you can field more ships in the galaxy at the cost of extra upkeep. Your Stellaris Command Limit, on the other hand, is a hard and fast rule. It’s especially important to understand all of this now that Stellaris added true Mercenary Enclaves with its Overlord expansion — allowing you to fund your own military companies at the cost of a 50-ship fleet. You’re going to want to raise your limit to engage with this system. So, let’s take a look at how best to do that with our Stellaris Command Limit guide!
Where to Find your Fleet Command Limit in Stellaris
Step one is to know exactly what you’re looking at. Your fleets’ Command Limit is shown in multiple places throughout Stellaris. The most consistently visible spot is on the right-hand side of your screen: the Outliner. If you’ve played any Stellaris at all, you’re probably familiar with this menu, as it shows everything from your Shipyards to the factions in your empire. To see your Command Limit, you first need a Military Fleet. Even just one combat ship will do! That includes the tiny force you get at the start of a Stellaris campaign. Just look at the fleet itself and look at the first two numbers under the fleet name. It should show something like “3/20.”
The second number is your Command Limit— which should the same for all your fleets in that round of Stellaris. In the example above, that means you can coordinate fleets of 20 ships or fewer. You can find precisely the same information by selecting any fleet manually or by going to the Fleet Manager menu. The menu will show you the maximum Command Limit even if you don’t have a military force to speak of. Just check the “New Fleet” option beneath your list of existing fleets. It will show you, in no uncertain terms, exactly what your “Command Limit” is.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that, if you hover over a fleet, it will eventually display an expanded popup window. This is what’s shown in the left-hand part of the image above. This popup first explains what your Command Limit is (which we’ve already addressed here). However, it also shows what is currently affecting your fleet Command Limit in your Stellaris campaign. The image above, for example, shows I’m getting +10 from “Destroyers” and +20 from “Doctrine: Space Combat.” Let’s explain what that means.
How to Raise Your Command Limit in Stellaris
The number one way to raise your Command Limit in Stellaris is through research. Every Hull Type, Fleet Doctrine, and Admiralty Support Staff technology will raise your Command Limit by a specific number. “Hull Type,” in this case, means different classes of military ships: Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships, and Titans. Hence the +10 for Destroyers in the image above. It’s not referring to the ships themselves, but to the research done to acquire them. Also note that Titans require the Stellaris: Apocalypse expansion.
Here’s a simple research breakdown:
+10 for each Hull Type (Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships, and/or Titans) Engineering Research
+20 for every Fleet Doctrine (Space Combat, Reactive Formations, Interstellar Warfare, Fluid Fleet Templates, and/or Armada Battle Formation) Society Research
+10 for every Admiralty Support Staff Society Research (this is a repeatable research type that can be completed five times for a total of +50 Command Limit)
We can then get an even higher Command Limit from Civics, Traditions, and Perks:
+10 from the Distinguished Admiralty Civic (requires either the Militarist or Fanatic Militarist Ethic)
+20 from the “War Games” section of the Supremacy Tradition
+20 from the Galactic Force Projection Ascension Perk
Research is of course the most flexible of these options. It doesn’t require you to shape your empire around military pursuits the way Civics, Traditions, and Ascension Perks do. The downside is that research is fairly random for much of the game. Your options are (mostly) pulled scattershot from a pool. Whereas the second set of Command Limit bonuses are all things you choose yourself. Put everything together, however, and you can reach a maximum of 260 Command Limit in Stellaris (as of the release of Patch 3.4).
If you really want to field large fleets early — to rush building a Mercenary Enclave for instance — it’s probably best to take Distinguished Admiralty at the start and Supremacy as your first Tradition. The base Command Limit is 20 at the start of any Stellaris save. With this Civic and Tradition, that brings you up to 50. Then you can fill with cheap Corvettes and start earning those mercenary Dividends.
Why Should I Increase my Command Limit in Stellaris?
The most concrete reason to raise the Command Limit of your fleets was mentioned above: Mercenary Enclaves. These were introduced in the Overlord expansion and demand players have a fleet Command Limit of at least 50. You need that many ships in a single fleet in a single system to create mercenaries. Easy!
Why does this matter beyond Mercenary Enclaves? Because more fleets mean more Admirals. More Admirals means a higher upkeep in Unity cost. It also limits the number of ships that can benefit from a single Admiral’s abilities at one time. Having a larger Command Limit will provide more flexibility to your navy. Granted, there will be situations when you only want a bunch of smaller fleets. Ones with or without Admirals. But oftentimes just one or two powerful military groups will do. It’s all a matter of how hard you want to take the military side of things.
And that’s that for my Command Limit guide to fleets in Stellaris! Hopefully this helped you better understand the ins and outs and creating the biggest navy groups possible. Best of luck conquering the stars and all that.